David Hencke identifies the fatal flaw in the Prime Minister’s plans to create 100 new ‘no deal’ Brexit-supporting peers.
Boris Johnson has shot himself in the foot over his plans to flood the House of Lords with up to 100 new ‘no deal’ Brexit supporting peers while simultaneously proroguing Parliament.
Johnson was said to be keen to appoint people like Tim Martin, founder of the Wetherspoons pub chain; Paul Stephenson, former director of communications for the Vote Leave campaign; and political consultant Jon Moynihan, a Vote Leave venture capitalist who donated £100,000 to Mr Johnson’s leadership campaign.
They would add to the minority of Brexiteers in the chamber which include Lord Lawson, Lord Tebbit, Lord Forsyth and former Conservative leader Lord Howard.
But, Mr Johnson’s scheme has already run into serious trouble.
Earlier this week, Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker, tweeted: “When I assumed office as Lord Speaker three years ago I did not quite expect the current political position. One proposal is that the [Government] should appoint 100 new peers. Nothing could be worse. It would be totally against the recent appointments policy which has been one of moderation.”
Now, a spokesperson for the House of Lords has told Byline Times: “Peerages are created by the monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister. Before a new peer can take their seat in the Lords they must receive their letters patent and writ of summons. After that they have to be introduced to the House and sign up to the code of conduct before taking their seat.
“There is a rule that only two members can be introduced on any one sitting day so it would not be possible to immediately create a large number of peers who can sit and vote in the House.”
Since Mr Johnson has decided to prorogue Parliament for five weeks and has yet to get the Queen to announce the new peerages, there is virtually no time for any ‘no deal’ peers to be appointed and take their seats in the Lords before the ‘do or die’ Brexit deadline of 31 October.
They also have to have their title agreed by the College of Arms – which in some cases can take months and is entirely outside the control of the Prime Minister.
Worse still, Mr Johnson is competing with his predecessor Theresa May who is also compiling a resignation honours list that will include new peers. The Lord Speaker’s Office confirmed that they are awaiting for a list from her and these are hardly likely to be ‘no deal’ Brexiteers. Meanwhile, Lord Bew, chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, is also preparing a list of six potential crossbench peers.
All this is against a background of an agreed policy being pursued by Lord Fowler to reduce the number of peers in the House of Lords from 800 to 600 – something which has the support of all parties in the House of Lords.
Although the Lord Speaker’s Office could not comment on whether Mr Johnson had entirely misunderstood the appointments procedure, there was no dissent over the proposition.